Long May You Run

1. If you grew up ordering slim paperbacks in school from Scholastic Book Services, you’ll enjoy this Flickr set as much as I do (via).

2. Neil Young has written an article for the Huffington Post about how the Detroit auto industry can radically alter its corporate culture by embracing green innovation. Young is clearly a transportation freak — aside from his work with Lionel Trains and Linc Volt, he also once wrote “Long May You Run”, a sweet love song about a favorite car. But I get the biggest kick out of the simple fact that Neil Young has written an article for the Huffington Post.

3. Judith Fitzgerald of Books Inq., responding to an apt appreciation by Billy Collins of a new Dylan publication, says that Leonard Cohen is a better poet than Bob Dylan. Levi Asher says Judith Fitzgerald has got to be kidding. Leonard Cohen wrote “Bird on a Wire” and maybe two other good songs. The album Blood on the Tracks alone outdoes Cohen’s entire career. A midget can’t play basketball with a giant.

4. “Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons found that doctors interacting with literature were more willing to adopt another person’s perspective, sometimes after just four one-hour workshops.” I believe it. More here.

5. A 4th Century Greek joke book anticipates Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch. But what about the cheese shop?

6. OUP Blog presents William Irvine on desire, a topic of infinite mystery.

7. The Millions remembers Liar’s Poker.

8. Neil Young is writing about cars, and Lexus is sponsoring original fiction. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Smiley. The collaborative novel’s visual layout is a little too “Lexus” for my tastes, but the experiment is worth a look.

9. Joan Didion is writing a film for HBO about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, who will forever be remembered as the subject of a Watergate-era John Mitchell prediction that didn’t come true.

10. I caught PBS’s broadcast of Filth, about 1960s British decency advocate Mary Whitehouse, last night. Very well done, and quite even-handed. (Note: the fact that I am praising the show has nothing to do with PBS buying a Filth blog ad on LitKicks, and the fact that I watched the show has everything to do with the fact that Roger Waters sang about Mary Whitehouse on Pink Floyd’s Animals).

11. Wonkette is a good political website, but they clearly know nothing about The Godfather. Nobody told Tessio (Abe Vigoda) that he was going to Las Vegas before killing him on the way to the airport — that was Carlo Rizzo. Jeez.

25 Responses

  1. Thanks, Levi, for the link to
    Thanks, Levi, for the link to the old Scholastic books. I remember a lot of them, read a number of them.

    And it even had one of the all time classics, Strangely Enough by CB Colby, the one that Michael Chabon used in his “Golems I Have Known. or, Why My Elder Son’s Middle Name is Napoleon” when he reportedly libeled the great CB Colby.

    That reading is printed up in Chabon’s Maps and Legends, a nicely — beautifully actually — packaged book that seems to contain a lot of filler to a large degree (ie old book reviews he wrote), but the main attraction is the original Golem piece which is well worth it.

    I was happy to see he actually did not libel Colby, at least as published in maps and legends.

    Look out Mama there’s a white boat comin’ up the river….

  2. Dear Sir,

    I generally agree
    Dear Sir,

    I generally agree with your comments, however I cannot agree with your opinion on Leonard Cohen. Not only has Mr. Cohen written far more than three “good songs”, he is clearly a better “poet” than Mr. Dylan. Ms. Fitzgerald, as you quoted her, was referring to skiils as a “poet”, and Dylan calls himself a “song and dance man”. Cohen, with his long poetry career, is clearly the better “poet”.



  3. Hi Rudolf — well, of course
    Hi Rudolf — well, of course we’re in the realm of opinion here — I know many people like Leonard Cohen’s work. I think he’s good, but he’s no Bob Dylan. But, yes, I was referring to lyrical skills or “poetry” here, as Judith was too.

  4. motorcycle mama won’t you lay
    motorcycle mama won’t you lay your big spike down

    Maybe Neil Young is the best poet mentioned on this thread?

    My favorite Dylan is Good As I Been to You. Maybe he’s not the greatest poet, maybe he is, but anyone who can play guitar like Mississippi John Hurt has got qualities that outweigh anything a poet of words has got.

    That’s poetry of sound.

    And Bill, on another note that is surprisingly related to this, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is out on DVD now. I watched it and the plot of the first episode made one of Dylan’s songs from Good As I Been to you a lot more clear — the great song Arthur McBride. In the Scarecrow, the King sent in the “press gangs” who would impress young men in to the Navy by brute force. That’s what that song Arthur McBride was about, how the singer and his cousin, Arthur McBride, beat the press gang and escaped being impressed — all on a Christmas morning.

  5. Cool!

    On the southern coast

    On the southern coast of England
    There’s a legend people tell,
    Of long ago
    When the great scarecrow
    Rode out from the gates of hell…
    And he’d LAUGH
    with a fiendish yell!

  6. Is it compulsory to compare
    Is it compulsory to compare all contemporary
    singersongerwritermotorcyclecrashers to Bob Dylan’s harmonica playing.
    Monica was the mother of Saint Augustine.
    I don’t know who Har was the mother of.
    It wasn’t Lot, that much is certain.
    Oedipus’s mother doesn’t count, because there is no Bob Dylan connection.
    Anyone think it’s a basement job.

  7. “Leonard Cohen wrote “Bird on
    “Leonard Cohen wrote “Bird on a Wire” and maybe two other good songs. The album Blood on the Tracks alone outdoes Cohen’s entire career. A midget can’t play basketball with a giant.”

    That was the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve read on this site, ever. I love Bob Dylan more than anyone (at least his first 5 years) but to dismiss Cohen as a midget? Both of them produced a bunch of good albums followed by some of spotty quality. Cohen’s first album (Songs of Leonard Cohen) is a beautiful poetry book, Dylan’s first (Bob Dylan) is a covers album (with 2 very impressive originals). Both are amazing.

    I always wondered about the relationship between these two. They were around at similar times, both poetic, Jewish, musical, folky, New York-y guitar players who dabbled in fiction, religious revelations, and politics, yet you never hear much about the two of them knowing each other. I’m sure someone here read the Dylan biography, anything?

    When Dylan referred to himself as a song and dance he was clearly joking, as he often did with the press.

  8. Actually, Rubiao, I do think
    Actually, Rubiao, I do think “midget” was an ill-chosen word. I’m not sure why I wrote that. There’s no reason I should make fun of short people in order to make fun of a (tall) folksinger. If anybody was offended, I sincerely apologize for that sloppy metaphor.

    And yes, Rubaio, I am not sure why I wrote that whole comment about Leonard Cohen. I do think he’s pretty good … at the same time, I must stand by my statement that Cohen and Bob Dylan are in such different categories that they cannot be reasonably compared. Dylan has reinvented himself about 8 times in his long and amazing career (as was so well-captured by the film “I’m Not There”). Leonard Cohen hasn’t really evolved much at all throughout his career, except to grow older. Dylan has in the last few years written a great book (“Chronicles”), hosted a popular radio show and made a really original movie (“Masked and Anonymous”). What has Leonard Cohen done in the last few years? That’s the kind of difference I’m talking about when I say the two just can’t be compared.

  9. To begin with, I don’t even
    To begin with, I don’t even consider Dylan a poet. Secondly, as a songwriter/performer, I’ve long considered him an idiot savant, in the same category as Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney and Ted Nugent. At least Cohen’s work usually makes sense.

  10. By the way, Cohen and Dylan
    By the way, Cohen and Dylan were both here in Newfoundland just recently. Rumour has it they attended each other’s shows. I attended neither (frankly, I hate concerts), but the way I hear it, Cohen’s performances came across as the most spectacular.

    Also, I don’t think Cohen has ever gotten the coverage in the States like he’s gotten here in his native Canada and (especially) Europe. For example, Levi talks as if he’s unaware of Leonard doing anything more than sitting on his arse at the ashram in recent decades. In actual fact, in the last ten years, he’s released Ten New Songs (2001), Dear Heather (2004), and The Essential Leonard Cohen compilation (2002; reissued with extra disc just recently); published the Book of Longing (2006); co-written Anjanji Thomas’s Blue Alert album (2006); performed on Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, winning a Grammy in the process; been featured in the film I’m Your Man (2005); toured extensively this past year; etc. Not bad for someone in his 60s and 70s. Also, I always got a kick out of the fact that when Michael Jackson’s Bad was No. 1 in the U.S. in the summer of ’88, Cohen’s I’m Your Man LP was No. 1 throughout most of Europe.

  11. Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen
    Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are known to be good friends. Dylan dedicated a (kickass) version of “Isis” which can be found on the Biograph collection to “my friend Leonard”, and I read in a Dylan bio that this referred to Leonard Cohen.

    Cohen was always a Dylan protege. I’d compare their relationship to that between, say, Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel. Like Phil Ochs, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez and many others, Leonard Cohen was often in Dylan’s posse.

  12. Nice backhanded compliments
    Nice backhanded compliments Levi; your comparison of their relationship is offensive, even if I don’t know who some of those people are. Dylan has reinvented himself often, in my opinion, to very little success. But Cohen’s last few albums were terrible as well. Masked and Anonymous was a rambling homage to better days and turned me off enough to not read Chronicles. Maybe I am too obsessed with early early Dylan, but I think this last trilogy of critically acclaimed albums was boring, and I’m Not There would have been disappointing if it weren’t for the Richie Havens scene with Tombstone Blues.

    Cohen’s reinvention led to some great music (The Future and I’m Your Man), but then again, that radio show is awesome. If only someone in the industry would catch on to how great it is…

  13. Rubiao, I know I am being
    Rubiao, I know I am being slightly offensive, but what the hell, I can’t be a nice guy 100% of the time. Something about Leonard Cohen just brings this side of me out.

    I have to stand up for “Masked and Anonymous” though. I love that movie! I think many people had trouble figuring out why Bob Dylan was starring in a political comedy, but I understood it to be his message to the world in the age of GW Bush, Al Qaeda and Iraq. Made a lot of sense to me in that context.

  14. I think he starred in a
    I think he starred in a political comedy because he wrote it right? I don’t remember it all that well, but didn’t he choose the Planet of the Apes ending? And why all the celebrities?

    Whats good for Charlton Heston is good for the gander I suppose.

  15. I don’t remember a Planet of
    I don’t remember a Planet of the Apes ending, but I do remember a Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader ending …

  16. Shakespeare, Marlowe

    Shakespeare, Marlowe
    Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen.
    This could go on
    Michaelangelo, DaVinci
    Shelley, Keats.
    Vincent, Gaugin.
    Mozart, Beethoven.
    Bob Dylan has a cast of characters in a world, that is quite Shakesperian
    leonard Cohen has individual characters struggling through life, that is more like Marlowe.
    And occasionally the other way round.

  17. ‘Beautiful Losers’
    Is one of

    ‘Beautiful Losers’
    Is one of my favorite books!
    I think Dylan and Cohen are both great poets!

  18. As for the best poets in the
    As for the best poets in the singer-song writer “circle”
    It goes like this:
    1. Bob Dylan: Come on now…saw what you will about some of his work but on a whole this man has changed the world, music and Art and how we view them all (with a little help from the beatles) he is a poet in the highest since of the word… years from now when people are studying poets in history…the name Bob Dylan WILL be up there with Shakespeare,,,(the immortal bard) Dylan rules…case closed!
    #2 Neil Young (my personal favorite) Neil has a way with words…and that guitar…jesus! Neil has more soul then all of motown. The shear number of songs Neil has written makes the mind scoff and stutter. and every single one of them as a strong melody Everone of them! And beauty:
    ‘See the sky about to rain,
    broken clouds and rain.
    Locomotive, pull the train,
    whistle blowing
    through my brain.
    Signals curling on an open plain,
    rolling down the track again.
    See the sky about to rain. ‘
    I’m sorry but I LOVE NEIL YOUNG
    3. all the rest…refer to top two for most important

  19. As a poet in the
    As a poet in the singer-songwriter category, Leonard Cohen cannot be diminished. As a musician singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell is right there. Bob Dylan’s stature in rock music is secured by his glorious decade long run up to “Blood on the Tracks”.

    Dylan’s songs don’t communicate as much outside their social context. While die-hards still worship at Dylan’s feet, his songs are losing ground to history, whereas a Cohen song such as “Hallelujah” is timeless.

    And, really, why compare?

  20. I think Levi now regrets his
    I think Levi now regrets his hasty remarks to some degree. These two are very different poets, who both have great power, and I like them both, but for different reasons. Dylan early songs
    bridged and renewed old European and American folk traditions, and gave his generation in America a voice and an example that helped shape American political and social history. The ’60’s are unimaginable without him. His popularity beyond American borders is a matter of the power of American media to impose its pop culture on a world eagerly looking for ‘the new,’ and not necessarily for ‘the good.’

    Cohen was influenced by Dylan, and learned from him, but he also learned from broader English and European literary traditions, and his best songs, of which there are many, have a resonance that is light years beyond Dylan’s limited appeal as an American pop legend. Cohen is at heart a religious poet, with a mystical quality that makes me wonder sometimes how he ever wound up in the modern music scene. But I’m glad he did. It was his way to bring his intense and deeply personal spirituality to the notice of a broad public. He has a more limited appeal than Dylan, but for me he makes up in depth for what he may lack in breadth. He is a true poet of the spirit, and has developed along that line into a maturity that Dylan, who has remained a pop poet and blues man, never reached or even aspired to attain.


  21. Dylan and Cohen both rock. I
    Dylan and Cohen both rock. I like them both. I read one of my Dad’s favorite poems by Cohen at his burial in 1999. I would highly recommend Leonard Cohen’s book, STRANGER MUSIC, a collection of his work, published 1994 by Vintage Books. The name of the poem is: “If It Be Your Will”–which is also a song.

    In addition, read BEAUTIFUL LOSER by Leonard Cohen. See the contrasts between early works and later works.

    In order to do the above contrast with Bob Dylan, read TARANTULA and then read CHRONICLES, Vol. 1.
    Both songwriters are equally important “in my book”.

    “Keep on chooglin’!” as John Fogerty would say.
    (He was the force behind the band “Creedence Clearwater Revival”.) May the road go forever onward!

  22. Neil Young is a great
    Neil Young is a great songwriter and poetic voice, too. I really like his song “Mother Earth’s Anthem” and many others. May the Lord bless him and keep him strong.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!